Three Things About The Negative Backlash to Fan Service #2

I have been harassed for writing about racism in fandom spaces since 2017.

Before, people had one off “lol that’s d*mb” and “fandom isn’t racist” responses, but it wasn’t until people started taking me seriously that the harassment amped up to the point where I found myself leaving Tumblr as a result. Sustained direct harassment – insults, impersonations, aggressive pushback, dogpiling, brigading and lying – have marked a large amount of my time in fandom since 2017.

It started with white dude slash shippers when I talked about the laser focus on Hux/Kylo and other white dude slash ships at the direct expense of characters of color in their media. Then Rey/Kylo shippers got in on it when I pointed out how their early Ben Solo characterization was given Finn’s backstory and interactions with Rey. Then people who identify as “proshippers” in and out of the Hannibal fandom and various anime fandoms that I’m also not in got in on the game.

And that’s what it is to them: a game.

None of the people who need to understand the direct harm these people doing to me as a person – not my platform, not my work with Teen Vogue, but me – will read this with a desire to understand.

Because it’s fun for them to lie on me and inflate inter-BIPOC issues like me calling someone a PickMe into harassment. It’s fun for them to watch people believe and spread lies about me all while claiming that it’s me doing the harassment. All they have to do is say I’m a bully, an abuser, that I harass other POC over ships, that I want to control fandom…

And collect clout.

So there’s no point in me talking about how sick I’ve been from last night or how I’m basically having a health crisis because of this or about how poorly I’ve been doing or how betrayed I feel by how many people are actively going “oh it makes sense, I’ll research this” when faced with lies about me. There’s no point in pointing out that people are harassing my friends over this when they’ve commented on the tweet from Teen Vogue or hype up my piece.

No one doing this actually cares that I’m a Black person being harassed by racists for writing about racism in fandom. It’s a non-issue because they don’t like my tone. That makes everything fine. Because I deserve it.

But I will point out some things:

First.

This is targeted harassment.

If you look underneath the tweet from Teen Vogue this is oriented around, many of the people are using the exact same screenshots of an interaction I had with a friend about another user where I called the younger user a “PickMe”. It’s not a recent screenshot. It’s literally from that day last year. Same goes for the other screenshot going around where I supposedly advocate for harassment of authors on the AO3: that was a screenshot taken by twitter user zombiejerusalem who hates me for no reason (seriously, I don’t know her to explain the depth of her hate for me) and got that screenshot from behind a mutual block, conveniently cutting out the previous tweet that made it clear that I was talking about racism in fanworks.

They are almost all using the same screenshots. The ones that don’t have those identical screenshots have tweets from fandom discourse blogs I’ve never spoken to and have rarely spoken about claiming that I’ve done them harm.

There are people saying I’ve harmed them/their friends… who I’ve never spoken to. People in fandoms I’ve never even touched – like Genshin Impact and the Untamed – have decided to join in the harassment because despite how much they’re against antis in fandom… they’ve found a community around being my anti fans – right down to harassing me for what I write.

ETA 2/12/21: There’s a thread going around by twitter user @queer_mermaids where they accuse me of platforming their harasser by reblogging a post from tumblr erikkillmongerpulledout when they got called a “coon” at age fourteen – which led to harassment because of my “thousands of followers”. They were 14 in 2014 – according to this apparently now-deleted tweet about being radicalized at 14 by Mike Brown’s murder back in August 2020 – and:

  • In 2014, I didn’t have the Stitch Media Mix tumblr or go by Stitch anywhere
  • I never had more than 2000 followers on any platform on Tumblr. I think the Stitch Media Mix account never cleared 2000 at its highest… because people don’t actually like folks talking about racism in fandom. Obviously.
  • These are the only times I engaged with the erikkillmongerpulledout account outside of me reposting a meme from them on twitter in 2019 – and this is the archive of my old tumblr pulled directly from the files and export function from Tumblr. I didn’t change or delete anything because I ran the export as is.
  • The user deleted the original August 2020 tweet about Mike Brown in order to continue getting clout as living proof that I harmed them… by supposedly reblogging a post on a blog that didn’t exist in 2014?

This is day three of the targeted harassment and racism and no one is doing a single bit of research. They’re just taking the words of my actual anti fans as fact. Exhausting.

Second.

PickMe isn’t misogynistic and it’s not a slur – racist or otherwise. It’s just not nice.

If you didn’t know what a “PickMe” actually was until you saw people say I harmed another user by calling them one – and if you don’t care that that user then called me a BITCH for it – you are not even remotely fit to be having this conversation.

From “White People, Please Please Pick Me” by Danica Seto:

This modernization of the expression is used in a racial context where rather than concerning the relationship between a woman and a man, it’s BIPOC trying to get praise from the white community. Often this includes downplaying situations where white people are demonstrating racist conduct/micro-aggressions, making excuses for these actions, or claiming others are too sensitive about it. Social media culture enables this type of rhetoric to be shared on almost all platforms, notably targeting younger audiences, allowing those with pick-me tendencies to be widely recognized. Although the conversation about the harm this causes could go on endlessly, I want to discuss the main issues with this behavior when dealing with race in 2020.

PickMe POC in fandom are the main ones lying on me in that thread. They’re the people telling others that I’m being racist to them… both by writing about white women’s racism in fandoms and by calling them PIckMes for what they’re doing to defend those women. Even as they say I am racist against them – for not excusing their antiblackness or for labeling them as PickMe POC – they facilitate racism against me by throwing in their little “I’m a POC, and [whatever Stitch is talking about] is not racist” and supporting active antiblackness against me.

PickMe is the nicest thing I can call people like that.

Third.

This is an attempt to get me fired from Teen Vogue in a way that directly parallels white supremacist/alt right tactics used successfully against marginalized people in media. Only it’s coming from fandom.

Amber Goldsmith – the fan-Karen mentioned at one point in this piece (ETA 4/6/2021 with DIRECT LINK TO SCREENSHOT) as someone who has tried to get Black writer Ashley Reese fired for her Snapewives piece for Jezebel– tagged Teen Vogue telling them I say “pretty clearly” that shipping Rey/Kylo makes people automatically racist… and then links to a post that clearly shows repeated use of the word ‘some” and talks about fandom trends.

But she doesn’t have to post where I have said plainly that these fans are racist. She just has to imply, like Comicsgators and the F@ndom Menace do all the time when they attack BIPOC in fandom, that I am “wrongfully” casting innocent BIPOC as racists for no reason. Because even though people are clicking through to the piece she linked to… they’re not actually reading it.

Because they don’t have to. They already believe her.

As Wagatwe writes in “Pulling the (white) hood off “cancel culture””:

The powerful complain about “cancellation” to punch down

Cancel culture harms the so-called cancellers. The allegedly cancelled and allies often refer to a faceless “mob,” which dehumanizes individuals into a single group that is only connected by harm they want to cause. What can you do with a mob except hope it disperses and minimize any damage? Calling “cancellers”—folks who tend to decry abuse, racism, transphobia, and other oppression—a mob is a convenient way to avoid considering that maybe a lot of people don’t agree with you.

The tactics that racist Star Wars fans used against Krystina Arielle – using old tweets and comments taken out of context to imply that she is toxic and racist [against white people in this context] – are the same tactics these people are using to discredit and try to remove me from this writing gig. It is the same thing. Lizcourserants or whatever and her almost 8000 large following “helpfully” dropping a “hey Teen Vogue do you know who you’ve hired? Stitch calls other Black people PickMes” tweets is done with the goal of taking what is now my source of income. It’s done to discredit and ultimately deplatform me.

And it’s all done by people who claim to be anti harassment in fandom.


As my friend and site editor A points out in the post she made this morning… there’s nothing I can do to stop this.

These are people willing to evoke and utilize the harmful tactics of the alt right and right leaning online male-oriented fandoms. Me talking about how this is a trauma trigger for me and is making me ill, showing that this is a sustained harassment campaign by racist and related PickMes, pointing out that I have debunked all of this for months, and proving that I’m the only person being harassed here –

Won’t help.

It won’t stop them.

They didn’t read A’s post and learn from it and they certainly won’t read this.

But I need people who aren’t part of this to just… pause and think about the fact that this is overtly antiblack targeted harassment to try and cost me a source of income and that these people are absolutely willing to both escalate with me… and turn on their PickMe POC when they’re no longer convenient. (Please, look into the twitter user who I called a PickMe. See why she’s not online as much/at all anymore on main.)

Anyway, I’m still here. Despite everything.

I refuse to stop writing about racism in fandom or media. Not on my site, not in any books I do, and certainly not in Teen Vogue. Fan Service is the dream of a lifetime and I am so glad that my editor and her editor have my back and are working with me to create clear, nuanced content about what we bring to and take from fandoms.

About Zeenah

Zeenah writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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7 Responses to Three Things About The Negative Backlash to Fan Service #2

  1. WHOM DO I NEED TO FIGHT???

    Liked by 2 people

  2. lkeke35 says:

    I see clear parallels between you and what the male oriented fandom did to Anita Sarkeesian over videogames. They want fandom to be taken seriously, are always crying that it isn’t, but want none of the critical thinking that is part of taking media seriously! It’s the same issue with gaming.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hope says:

    Stitch, I’m praying that your health, physically and mentally begins to look up soon. Please take care of yourself even if that means a break. You are such an incredible person and a great well of knowledge. Lots of hugs. Horse, horse, horse!

    Like

  4. Fred says:

    I think there’s a point that needs to be mentioned, as it crossed my mind when I was reading through your (very interesting) blog.

    I was forced to study the classics at school and there’s NOTHING that kills interests in the classics like being forced to study them and answer asinine questions about them. I loved reading, but I hated having to look at the classics through the teacher’s ideological lens and try to guess at her take on the subject. Romeo and Juliet, for example, is much more interesting if you’re not forced to look at it through modern eyes.

    People become fans for fun. The majority, I think, want to enjoy themselves. They don’t want to waste hours analysing racism and suchlike – they want to get away from it and immerse themselves in whole new worlds. They don’t like being told they’re racist or sexist or whatever, they just want to have fun.

    Fred

    Like

    • Zeenah says:

      But have you thought about the fact that marginalized fans can’t escape into these spaces because of the racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry other fans aren’t interested in unpacking? Why is fandom only for some fans? The fans who aren’t affected by racist fanworks or rhetoric. The fans who don’t care about ableism. The fans whose bodies aren’t turned into jokes…

      My literal first column was actually about this because yes, it’s great to just dive into fandom and do whatever… But that escapism isn’t made equally and as you may have noticed, fans of color can’t escape racism in fandom AND we can’t even talk about what we’re experiencing.

      And please think about the fact that you’re commenting on a post that is about *ongoing racist harassment including people trying to and succeeding at destroying my reputation with lies* for me going, in my own spaces that no one else has to engage with, that racism in fandom shouldn’t be accepted and offering ways for ALL fans to be better to each other over it. My Twitter account has been locked for the better part of the past seven days because people don’t like being told they’re racist (or that their behaviors in fandom are racist) to the point that they’re actively trying to cost my my reputation and my income.

      If this is what fun looks like in fandom… Well. Yikes.

      Like

  5. Margaret R. says:

    I’ve sent a email to Teen Vogue asking them to keep you on their staff. I don’t know how much good it will do, but I hope you’ll at least be able to keep your job.

    Like

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